Monday, 8 March 2010

Blogging on Blogging.

I am about to commit what I hear from certain sections of the blogging community is a cardinal sin.

In the interests of making things crystal clear for those of you that might prefer to run screaming, and just in case the title wasn't a complete give away, this is... wait for it... a blog post about blogging. I know. I'm bad.

A few things prompted me to begin writing this post. Reading and enjoying other posts about blogging, for example this one from Notes From Lapland, and this one from Black Hockey Jesus, but mostly - and this is the crux of my point on which I shall elaborate shortly - reading back through my earliest posts which I believe (but for a few exceptions) to be better than my most recent ones.

Being something of a closet Luddite, I only got connected to the internet in December last year. I set up an e-mail account, found a few old friends on facebook and pottered about on mumsnet for a bit. Then after a week or so, and armed only with my Readers Digest: 'How to do just about anything on a computer' I set up a site using Blogger and published my first ever post. I was thrilled - and that is no exaggeration - by the medium of blogging. Still am. I couldn't believe it, anyone with an internet connection could self-publish whatever they wanted. That to me was revolutionary. It was anarchic and exciting but most importantly I felt, it was a great equalizer. I've always been a sucker for a good free for all.

Lately though I've come to the realisation that many things have been distracting me from the writing, which is after all supposed to be the point. New discoveries such as Twitter, statcounter (I have a sad obsession with the recent visitor map - don't ask) and feedburner, make it hard to concentrate on creating actual content. I find myself checking my e-mail at regular half an hour intervals like a trained lab rat in the hope that there will be a new comment waiting juicily in my inbox to be published. After all who doesn't love getting comments? They are part of what makes blogging the unique medium it is - the ability for the writer to interact with their readers is what can make the posts come alive. The knowledge that someone is not only reading what I have to say, but that they can relate to it enough to want to comment and add to it is fantastic. But getting too caught up in the trappings of blogging along with the self imposed pressure I feel to produce a certain number of posts each week is, I feel, driving down the quality of my writing (not that I think I'm Margaret bloody Atwood, but ya know, I want to be the best I can.)

I have also discovered that I am not in any way immune to blogging insecurity. I find myself wondering why certain posts didn't receive many comments. I compare myself unfavourably to other new bloggers. I worry that I'm not up to scratch.

Today I discovered that someone had blocked me on Twitter. I have absolutely no idea why. I don't think I've ever had any contact with this person, or even commented on their blog - I'd seen them about the blogosphere and was interested in what they had to say - so put in a request to follow them, that is all. The reason I'm (sob) sharing this is because on finding that I had been blocked, I then spent the next fifteen minutes checking through all my tweets to see if I had said anything that could possibly have offended anybody. Fifiteen minutes that could have been spent writing and enjoying my blog. Why do I care that someone with whom I don't even have a passing virtual acquaintance has blocked me from following them? I don't know. I do though.

So I think perhaps I need to go back all of three months to my blogging roots. I need to remember why I started blogging, I need to remember that virtually everyone I have met in the blogosphere has gone out of their way to be friendly and supportive, and most of all I need to get over my existential blogging angst, because frankly it's boring even me now.

I am really interested to know if other bloggers experience blogging insecurity - and if they feel that it can affect the quality of their writing. Have you devised ways of guarding against it? Please feel free to share anything that comes to mind.


  1. Everyone writes a blog post like this eventually (including myself ) We start off blogging for ourselves but soon find ourselves needing validation from comments, visits and tweets.
    I call it becoming a "Blogging Prostitute" selling our souls to get more comments etc. Soon you reign it back in - and either decide you do it for yourself or go all out to get subscribers and comments. You subscribe to every blogging forum you can. You comment on everyone else's blogs. You retweet ceaselessly.
    I think in reality most of us stare at the fluff in our belly button for a while, decide we enjoy writing out blogs and reading others and accept that over time comments and visits will grow and we will inevitably have some "duff" posts.

  2. I have in the past suffered from 'Please leave me comments' syndrome. I think we all get over it eventually, well so I'm told, I'm still waiting.

  3. I think all bloggers, no matter how long they've been blogging and even those with hundreds of daily visits, STILL worry about blogging. There was a phrase 'bloggers wobble' which was being talked about for a while when bloggers get all these thoughts you're having. I definitely struggle with it at times and I once had a break for a few weeks because it was all getting to me a bit. Some days I feel good about my blog and on other days I feel like giving up on it. On most days the blogosphere is friendly but you do get occasional run-ins and that's inevitable and acutally nothing to worry about because it blows over quickly. Just keep blogging in the way you enjoy and don't think too much about comments and stats. I wouldn't worry about someone blocking you on twitter (unless it was me pressing a wrong button while using it on my iPhone?! I've done it before). Think positive and keep blogging for yourself!

  4. We all love comments and all go into quandries when we have posts that don't get so many. It drives me nuts that some of my more interesting posts (I think) get much fewer comments. I went through a stage of thinking that I shouldn't write them, would affect my stats, blah blah. Then I remembered that I write posts for me, and I write what I want, when I want to.

    I can't get involved in Twitter. I'd be addicted and get nothing done.

    I love your blog, it has something to say and is interesting. Just keep going as you are and you will find you enjoy it. x

  5. This made me laugh, mainly as I am at the beginning of my blogging life and I am slowly feeling it suck me in... if it wasn't for the fact I had to occasionally work for a living I would spend my life reading, commenting... and feeling horribly insecure at my feeble first efforts. So thank you so much for this - it has really made me think, and I am taking this as a resolution to not get too sucked in, concentrate on quality rather than quantity, and not to worry about what other people think. A sweepstake on how long that will last, I wonder?!

  6. We write because we want people to read and if they don't leave comments then without trawling through your stats you don't know if anyone has even read it. Nothing more demoralising than spending hours on something you're proud of and then no one start to wonder what's wrong with your posts.
    Must admit I feel that way a bit but I'm also aware that I don't spend nearly as much time 'plugging' my blog as i should and the way to do that is by commenting on other blogs.
    I write is quite well read and I'm finding my blog Cherishedbyme harder to get followers/readers I suppose because it's 'safe'and similar to a lot of other blogs. I really enjoy your posts....I am sure you will get the comments you deserve, it just takes time.:0(
    By the way I loved your previous post- did you remove it? It made me cry....I'm going through a really tough time at the moment and your post hit a nerve. I tried to comment but it disappeared. Oh and I've wasted so much time trying to check if someone is still following me on Twitter and if not wondering why not.
    Good luck. ;0)

  7. Insecurity? Hell, yeah! I suffer from this about a million times a day and, unsurprisingly, have also written a post about it - And the lab rat, checking emails every ten minutes? That's me too! And I'm so disappointed when nothing's appeared. I think not knowing who you're writing for can have a negative effect on your writing, as it's hard to write for an audience if you're not really sure who they are...

  8. LOL-I think that since I started blogging only a month ago, I have read at least a handful if not more of posts on this topics and I have addressed it myself.

    Sadly I think it is human nature to want attention and approval and to compare ourselves to others. That is what keeps us from truly being ourselves and happy.

  9. When I started this it was to get over the fear of people writing something I'd written - I didn't actually want anyone to read it. Then some people read it, and it was quite nice - but I didn't need any more. Then a couple of people started leaving comments.... oh God, where will this end. Blogging insecurity - oh yes!

  10. Firstly hun I love your blog and what you write about you have a fantastic outlook on life and it really cheers me to read your stuff!! Blogging is addictive as is Twitter the two mediums appeal to so many people on so many levels. I guess the thing that attracts can also can also cause us angst as well. We all have those days when we feel insecure and if we believed all the 'things' that we are supposed to feel insecure about we'd all quite frankly ... well I dont even want to think about that!! Ive written lots of posts and not published them 'something' stopped me. Was it insecurity maybe I guess you just have to trust your own instincts and wright what you know and what interests you. Cant go wrong with that. X

  11. i agree with pretty much all you wrote and feel pretty much the same way about life out there in the blogosphere. except for twitter. i just can't commit to it. i find blogging more than enough distraction from my non-virtual life; i can't seek out another way to waste life. especially as i am actually supposed to write for a living too. i don't know what you do to care less. just switch off the computer i think. and enough dipping in and out of other people's ramblings... ps can't believe you're such a recent internet convert!!

  12. Funny I've a post in my head about this very topic but you've said it much better than me. From what I've read most bloggers seem to go through the same thing. I think we all start well with loads of fresh of ideas but then when you start reading other blogs you get that 'bloggers wobble' that Emily O has so aptly called it and you think everything you write is flat and 'I'm sooooo much crapper than everyone else so I think I should just stop making a show of myself and jump of the face of the blogosphere'.
    Just so you know of all the blogs I'm following which is a mix of some of the big names and some newbies like myself, yours is defo one of the ones I know I'll always enjoy reading so keep it up!

  13. Great post. I am a new blogger too and loving it. I get terribly excited by new followers and comments. But a few entries with no comments and I get the "nobody loves me" syndrome!! LOL!

  14. The Moiderer, I checked out your link and I can see exactly what you mean. Our heads seem to have been in quite similar places. The comments I've got on this post seem to show that this is almost a rite of passage that all of us go through at some point, and I feel hugely better just for knowing that so thanks.

    Gooner Jamie, Nice to meet you. Thanks for the DM, it was really kind.

    Emily O, Bloggers Wobble sums it up perfectly! What's interesting is that it seems to get everyone at times, no matter how successful they are.

    JulieB, Blogging is such a fantastic outlet, and you meet some really interesting people. I hope you enjoy it to the full. My advice? Step away from the statcounter. Easier said than done though I'm afraid!

    Fraught Mummy, I know exactly what you mean! The posts that seem to get the most attention are often not the ones that I necessarily would have expected to. For what it's worth the posts of yours that I tend to like the best are the ones in which you write about the history and politics of where you live. I find them fascinating and informative. Thanks for your kind words about my blog.

    Nova, It wasn't finished! I was working on it then managed to hit the publish button when I meant to click on save! Doh! I then panicked and ended up deleting the lot. Can remember it o.k. though I think. It's going to be my next post. I'm sorry to hear you're going through a tough time at the moment. Take care. x

  15. Young Mummy, Thanks for the link - I can really relate to your post. I think that when it comes to content, you just have to please yourself. Everyones tastes are different, so you can never please all your readers all of the time. I guess it must be a real juggling act when family read your blog though - I'm anonymous so I don't have that to consider.

  16. Susie, Thanks for the link - I absolutely agree with your stance on the issue of trust. Have left a more comprehensive comment on the post itself.

    1husband,2kids, I have a huge collection of books too! And I can sooo relate to your comment.

    Careyannie, Thank you for your encouragement - it's really appreciated. Have you still got some of those posts you didn't publish in your drafts? Maybe one day you will feel happy to post them.

    Babies who brunch, Yep Twitter can take up a whole lot of time. It's great when you should be doing something really boring like hoovering!
    As for my recent internet connection - it's a running joke amongst my family that I have finally decided to join the 21st century! In the end a friend of mine practically dragged me down to PC World and said 'BUY THIS ONE! NOW!'

    Last of the Mojitos, Yes you're right I think. This is something that affects all bloggers to a more or lesser extent. Thank you so much for your lovely words about my blog. I'm a fan of yours too, so don't you give up either!

    Photopuddle, Nice to meet you. Thank you for your comment, I shall be popping over to yours soon.

  17. I go through this too.

    I actually find that for me, getting a few days with lots of hits was a real double-edged sword. I had a couple of days where one post had been re-tweeted by some folk with gazillions of followers, so there were a lot of clicks. And it went to my head. Not in an 'ohmygod I'm awesome, the next Dooce' kind of way, but more in the way that i started to feel my blog was important... or rather, that posting regularly and doing the twitter thing was important. And I found I was posting not just when I really had the urge but when I sat down and thought 'hmmm, what I write?' and those posts are always the worst.

    So just at the time when more people were reading, the quality was declining. Not a great idea.

    I'm trying not to look at the stats or worry too much about whether I'm getting comments and retweets now. I started blogging as self-expression, not to be popular. And I've realised I've gotta stick to that, or there's no point.

  18. My Milk Spilt, Yep been there. Sitting around staring wildly into space thinking 'What can I write about, what can I write about' Not good. Like you say, if you're not feeling it then it doesn't come out well anyway. I'm feeling extremely buoyed by all the supportive comments on this post though so thank you for yours. x

  19. I've been at this for a while and I'm still obsessed with the Statcounter recent visitors map.

    I know what you're talking about, I've been through it a few times. Some time ago I just came to terms with it all and decided to write when I felt like it and leave it alone when I don't. There's no obligation, it isn't a job. And when I force myself to write, I write shite.

    I stay away from Twitter, it just doesn't work for me.

  20. I know how you feel, Gappy. I often wonder why I don't have as many comments as other blogs or why I'm not on more blogrolls. It's like high school all over again. It's silly. I guess we bring our real-life insecurities into virtual life. But we should blog because we love to write, like to share our thoughts, not to win a popularity contest, right? (Right? I'm telling myself, too.)

  21. You've hit the nail on the head for how I've been feeling in the last couple of days and said it all far more eloquently than I ever could. I love your writing and think what you have to say here is worth your time & effort.

    For me, I'm trying to remember that I blog for myself & no-one else. I keep reminding myself that it isn't important for everyone to like me or for them to leave me a comment giving me a pat on the back. Support & friendship through blogging seems to be an added pleasure & its normal that their will be some friends, some acquaintances & those that you don't quite gel with in the virtual world as in real life.

    MD xx

    PS good for you at mastering Twitter. I'm scared to give it too much time for fear of another online addiction.

  22. I always worry, when I've posted a particularly middle-class post about something vacuous like my drawer-liner paper not quite matching my Boden tea cosy, that someone, quite justifiably, is going to leave a comment saying, 'Shut your pampered, smug face!' I'm kind of living in fear of it. In fact, I should just post that myself and have done with it. Anyway, am very attached to your fabulous, intelligent blog, so please keep posting! x

  23. A Free Man, So you understand the lure of the recent visitors map aswell. I'm always looking at it and thinking 'ooh, someone from the Pitcairn Islands visited today' Which is pretty exciting. I mean you live in Australia which is the other side of the world, but we can just turn on our computers and read each others blogs. It blows me away really (you can tell I only got the internet recently can't you.)

    Jana, yes I think you make a really good point that just because the interaction with others in the blogosphere is conducted via a computer screen, doesn't mean we don't still bring our 'real' life baggage into those interactions.

    MD, I think you have the right attitude there. This is a hobby and it's supposed to be for our pleasure. Enjoying it is paramount eh.

    NWBI, You never fail to make me laugh. If anyone ever dares to come on your blog and leave a nasty comment like that then I'll... I'll flog them with my Cath Kidston pinny!

  24. I live in a permanent state of Blogger's Wobble.

    It's a slippery slope my friend. First you start to get the sweats if you don't get more than five comments per post, then ten, then twenty. Then you wail and gnash your teeth of half of those comments don't appear within an hour of you posting.

    Here's the big secret though: EVERYONE thinks they are crap. Everyone worries that they're not as good as the next blog on the block, that people don't really find them interesting.

    EVERYONE. Just part of the deal. Once you realise it's not just you? Gets a little easier. But however long you blog for you'll find these feeling pop up from time to time.

    You just have to ride it out. When it stops being fun take a week off here and there as you need to. When you do write, write about what's in your heart and what you love. I reckon then you can't go far wrong xxx

  25. Thanks Josie. I was considering taking a little break, but ironically all the lovely comments on this post seem to have jump started my enthusiasm again. It's just nice to see that so many people can empathise I guess.

  26. Josie says that thing about not getting many comments but she always gets TONS! Not fair, Josie. :)

  27. Don't worry about the blocking thing, it's really easy to press the wrong button (espcially on an iPhone screen!) Keep at it, you will find it very rewarding. Don't pay any attention to the negative stuff, rse above it or it will drag you down.

  28. Gratitude Tag over at mine for you, celebrating our mothers if you fancy taking it on. x

  29. Modern Mother, Thanks for commenting, and also your reassurance over the Twitter thing - I'm sure it must have been a mistake like you say. I find it so ironic that out of all my posts, this one has got the biggest response. Just goes to show how much it strikes a chord with other bloggers eh. It's really lovely, now if I ever feel an attack of Bloggers Wobble coming on I can just come straight over to all the comments on here for instant solace.

  30. And here's one more! Yes, you can always go back to this one day of stats and see that in fact many more people read a blog than will comment on it.

    I know what you mean about the location map thingy. I was so excited the other day because someone from Moscow had been on my blog.

    It did remind me a bit of getting letters from a penpal in Japan when I was a kid. I used to sniff the paper and run my fingers over the ink because it had come from such a faraway exotic place.

    You can't do quite the same thing with blog comments or visitor stats so I think we compensate by, um, just staring at them!


  31. Hi Flo, thanks for commenting. I'm glad it's not just me that has such a fascination with the recent visitors map. Is it possible though to have a fixed one, where all the visitors markers stay on, even if they don't come back? I'd quite like to put a mini version in my side bar.